Washington State University at Seattle, Computer Engineering Department; Friday evening…
All of the other janitors at the Computer Engineering building had left hours ago, but Stefan had returned, lurking around the facility. On Fridays, most of the University closed down earlier than it did on the weekdays, so it made Stefan’s task much easier.
Stefan used his id badge to enter the Computer Engineering building. Like most id badges, it was also a keyless card. With the master keys he had, so that he could open up office doors to clean inside, Stefan virtually had free range in the building. He had returned to the facility with different clothes on. Not black clothes, however, that would arouse suspicion among any teachers or students that might be lingering around.
Stefan had been in the building for five minutes when he finally reached the dean’s office of Computer Engineering, where Tage had a clerical position. Of course, the door to the dean’s office was locked, so he reached into his jacket pocket and extracted a 23rd century equivalent to a Swiss army knife and played with the door knob until the door opened. Stefan looked around the low-lit hallway before entering into the room.
The door was barely closed when he felt the stinging sensation of a stunner blast from Tadosh’s gun. Stefan quickly turned to see who had shot him and tried to run toward Tadosh, but his legs gave way and Stefan slumped onto the floor.
“Good job, Tadosh,” Patrick said as he popped up from behind an office desk. He went over to help Tadosh move the muscular young man onto a pushcart they had gotten from the basement of the building. “Are you sure you just stunned him? He feels pretty limp to me!”
Patrick removed Stefan’s necklace id badge from around his neck and put it around him, but making sure that Stefan’s face was turned, facing his chest so no one could see that it was not Patrick.
“Trust me, Dr. McClain, if I had blasted him with the regular laser puck, you’d see blood all over this room.”
“Thanks for sharing!”
Tadosh looked at Patrick with confused eyes after getting Stefan onto the cart. “Thanks for what?”
“Never mind, Tadosh, it’s a 21st century thing.”
Tadosh shrugged and helped Patrick cover Stefan up with a large, empty computer box. They had positioned his docile body so that he was in the fetal curl, thus making it easier for the previously cut out bottom of the box to slide over him while the top of the box remained closed.
They wheeled the cart out of the dean’s office and went down the hallway toward the elevator bank.
Drogheda’s new apartment, several miles east of downtown Seattle; Friday night, 11:30 pm…
Tage closed the front door to Drogheda’s apartment after arriving there. He had only begun to peel off his jacket when Drogheda stormed in from the bedroom, his face indignant.
“What’s wrong,” Tage asked, a frown equally on his chiseled face.
“I thought you might have been Stefan…”
Tage’s head snapped to the side with surprise. “You mean he’s not here yet?”
“You’d known that if you weren’t out on your date tonight, wouldn’t you now?”
Tage sighed as loud as he could while he let his jacket plop on a nearby chair. It was times like these when Drogheda would seem more like a lecturing father than a fellow Anarchist activist!
“Stefan had to tell,” Tage said under his breath, his head shaking and a smirk on his lips.
“As he should have! Tage, we all agreed not to get tangled up with people of this time!”
“Yeah, but that was before we changed plans and decided to bring our people to this time instead of us going back to our own time!”
It was a good point that Drogheda had not thought on before. He acknowledged this with a subtle nod of his head. “Fair enough…right now, we need to focus on why Stefan isn’t back yet. Of course, it doesn’t help that we can’t reach him on his communicator since he lost it!”
Tage remained quiet as Drogheda began to pace in the living room of the moderately spacious apartment.
“Let’s see,” Drogheda thought out loud, “when I last saw him, he said he was heading back to the University to get a surplus hard drive he saw at your office earlier this week.”
“Yeah,” Tage finally said as he nodded his head, “I noticed it, too. I couldn’t get it during the weekdays because of the late hours the University is opened.”
“Don’t worry, Tage, I understand that…”
“Think he teleported somewhere else? Maybe he got another tip for more equipment?” Tage asked this as he scanned the various home and industrial appliances that littered Drogheda’s living room.
Drogheda was rubbing his strong jaw now. “I already checked that an hour ago. The only thing I could pick up on my detector was from when we last used them, and even then, those traces are slowly fading away. Well, that, and a few stronger residual traces from McClain’s Tower.”
“Why, are they teleporting all over Seattle hoping to bump into us,” Tage asked with a sardonic smile. He knew that such a search would not only be futile since Drogheda and his team had not teleported in several days—and, therefore, could not be traced—but it would also be a waste of power for their teleporters!
“No, not in this case. The coordinates show them to be in the same pinpoint area, which means that they were basically teleporting in the same room. Why they would do that, I don’t know.”
“Should we go over to the University, see what’s going on?”
Drogheda looked up at Tage with a blank stare then his face was animated from an epiphany.
“I should have known,” said Drogheda to Tage, though he was looking at a corner of his apartment. “They already have him.”
“What,” Tage exclaimed as he walked up closer to the older man.
“Yeah, they must have him already.” Drogheda now turned to face Tage. “Think about it, Stefan goes missing at the University, we teleport there in a panic, and guess what happens after that…”
“McClain and that Pangean meddler trace our teleporting.”
“Exactly! Or, they might even be there, waiting for us and using Stefan as bait for us to bite!”
“Okay, so what do we do now? Even if we drive over there to get Stefan, McClain and Tadosh will likely have a trap for us; we teleport over there, they will for sure detect us even if they are not there, or they’ll be there waiting for us after teleporting…” Tage raised his hands in a gesture of defeat, or fatalism. “Sounds like to me, sir, we have no choice but to confront them head on…I say enough of these hide-and-seek games!”
Drogheda was proud to hear the young man take such an aggressive attitude. He nodded after Tage’s statement and went over and grabbed his own jacket.
“Uh, sir,” Tage voiced with a concerned tone, “I was really thinking more along the lines that I should go and get Stefan while you stay and continue to work on our time catalyst.”
“Tage, remember there are two of them. You can’t handle them by yourself! Just because McClain is of this primitive time doesn’t mean we should underestimate him…after all, according to our history, McClain is the one who made our time traveling abilities possible in the first place! Never underestimate your opponent, Tage. Especially when they’re as smart as McClain!”
Tage gave a single nod of reluctant approval then slipped his jacket back on. Drogheda grabbed both of their pouches that were full of espionage equipment and tossed one to Tage. This time, they took their portable teleporters and their laser guns. The two men headed for the door.
“Besides, like you said, Tage, I think we’ve all had enough of these games!”